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A 163-mile run for those who couldn't

Eric Adelson
Yahoo Sports

He started running at the Massachusetts border at dawn on a Friday morning. He was alone.

He finished running at the ocean the next night. He was surrounded.

The sleepless hours and agony in between tell the story of a man, and a state, and a cause.

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Adam Scully-Power ran to honor victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. (Courtesy of Adam Scully-Power)

Adam Scully-Power, a 39 year-old father of four, is one of those guys you hear about on infomercials. He was overweight. He started a diet. And a man who couldn't run two miles was suddenly running five, 10, 15. Nearly a year ago, a friend named David Green challenged Scully-Power to run 110 miles in an ultra marathon. He did it.

The story does not end there. Not even close.

Green ran the Boston Marathon in May, and fortunately avoided any injury when bombs exploded at the finish line. He did, however, take a photo of the panicked scene in the moments after the attack. He sent the picture to the FBI. And that photo became known worldwide because of the tiny but clear image of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the accused bombers, walking away from the hell he allegedly created.

The photo gave Scully-Power great consternation. And it gave him inspiration.

Days later, he signed up for the Pan-Mass Challenge, which is a bike race across Massachusetts to raise money for cancer research. Except Scully-Power didn't want to bike this route.

He wanted to run. He wanted to run for cancer victims and for Marathon victims.

It was 163 miles.

"I went in with a mentality," Scully-Power told Yahoo! Sports Friday. "Just finish, and raise money for Dana-Farber. Those were the two overarching themes."

What happened along the way, however, overwhelmed him.

People found out about his run and started beeping their car horns and shouting encouragement along the way. Some even ran with him. Throughout that Friday and overnight as he went, money poured in. Scully-Power raised more than $25,000. And a grueling run that lasted more than 40 hours, without sleep, went by surprisingly fast.

Until the very end.

"As I was getting onto the Cape, I assumed it would be flat," he says. "It was really hilly. The sun was going down and there were loops off the main road. That was difficult mentally. The last three miles were really tough."

Scully-Power, by his own admission, was "delirious."

His wife, Belen, started to run with him, exhorting him on. Then she got out her phone and started reading him text messages forwarded from his training coach, Lisa Smith-Batchen, who sent messages for those who had lost their battle with cancer.

"I died 14 months ago from Stage 4 bone cancer,” one read. "Thank you Adam."

"I died a few months ago from pancreatic cancer," read another. "Thank you Adam."

“We are all hit with awfulness,” Adam's coach texted to Belen. “He's bringing joy and love.”

By then, Scully-Power was crying as he ran. Even now, two weeks after he finished that Saturday night at almost midnight, he can't talk about those text messages without choking up. At a celebration dinner, he asked a friend to read the text messages to the group of family and supporters, and the friend broke down too.

The morning after he finished, Scully-Power woke up at 4:30 a.m. to cheer on the bikers arriving at the Cape. He had 350 emails, including one from a man who ran five miles with his son that morning to honor him and all the Marathon victims.

"That part of the experience," Scully-Power says, "is what made this truly amazing."

He was surrounded that weekend, spiritually if not physically, by runners and non-runners alike. He was one of many who simply wanted to finish a race for others who could not.

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